America had its ‘One Small Step for Man; One Giant Step for Mankind.’ On this day, Great Britain and Northern Ireland will have its ‘One Small Handshake Across the Divide; One Giant Step for Peace and Forgiveness.‘
The very fact that the Queen is visiting Northern Ireland at this time is, in itself, historic given how troubled and war torn that part of Great Britain has been over the centuries; a prolonged and bloody battle between those who are loyal to the Crown and those who want unification with Ireland to the south. But the really big event about to take place today with much anticipation and heightened awareness of its symbolism, is that Queen Elizabeth will reach out to take the hand of one Martin McGuinness who, during what was euphemistically called The Troubles, was personally responsible for having bombed and killed many innocent people in the name of the Republican cause. As the leader of the IRA, he also was implicated in the murder of the Queen’s uncle, Lord Mountbatten.
The Queen, as the Head of State of the country McGuinness hated so much and visited so much violence upon, will extend the hand of forgiveness to him, while the once convicted terrorist in taking her hand in a gesture of reconciliation and peace will relinquish his hatred. This one small gesture opens the way to the healing of generations and serves to show the power of forgiveness. Today is a big day for peace in Northern Ireland. Perhaps the symbolism will not be lost on other countries around the world that have not yet healed the pain of wars of yesteryear.